Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.297.1 - 9.297.16
Challenges of Changing Faculty Attitudes about the Underlying Nature of Gender Inequities
Kimberly Covington and Jeff Froyd
Texas A&M University
Increasing diversity of the engineering student body requires at least one of two parties, either the incoming student population or the institution offering engineering programs, to change. Efforts to increase diversity in engineering have historically focused on changing the incoming student population. At Texas A&M University, the second alternative, changing the institution (by changing faculty) is being explored in an NSF-supported project “Changing Faculty through Learning Communities.” The project employs four mechanisms to promote change in faculty members: speakers, workshops, faculty learning communities (FLC), and matching grants to support women students. Specifically, the project aims to catalyze changes in the way faculty think about four concepts that are tightly linked to the concept of gender diversity: 1) mental models, 2) development and invitation, 3) personal vision and commitment, and 4) the culture of engineering and science. The following paper describes change mechanisms, highlighting FLC, and four changes that learning community participants report. Participants a) shifted from searching for external solutions to changing internally, b) recognized that faculty members help create a welcoming environment, c) realized that accumulation of subtle inequities create large disparities for women, and d) reported heightened awareness of mental models, gender schemas, and differences in ways men and women develop and communicate.
The majority of engineering schools throughout the country lack diversity among both their student populations and faculty ranks , [2, chapter 2]. Almost all of the programs to date that have been implemented to rectify this situation have focused on changing the student population to cope with an environment that the data suggests is not sufficiently conducive to supporting a diverse student population. Creating pervasive, transformational change within engineering programs in higher education requires institutional change as well as change among the faculty, the principal population that develops and maintains the institutional culture.
In their book “Taking the Reins,” Peter Eckel and Adrianna Kezar note that helping people think differently is an essential element of transformation. Transformation is as much about getting people to think differently as it is about anything else. Forging new collective understandings and creating new beliefs about institutional activities and people’s roles are essential to transformation and, we found, more important than changing structures, creating reward incentives, aligning budgets, or making and implementing difficult decisions. A key part of transformation is Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Covington, K., & Froyd, J. (2004, June), Challenges Of Changing Faculty Attitudes About The Underlying Nature Of Gender Inequities Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13802
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